Shanghaied into watching the closing ceremony of the Beijing Olympics with my partner (I was born missing the sporting gene), I was expecting a prancing dragon and a couple of fire crackers, but found myself swept away by the sheer opulence, originality and grandeur of the event. The Chinese had evidently taken their time on the world's stage deadly seriously and were not about to miss out on their opportunity to impress the watching globe to the max - to the point where you wondered how many Beijingers may have died or suffered to make it possible to pour that degree of an economy's revenue into an event which would pay it minimal dividends other than in international kudos. As for the amazing purpose-built venues, how many citizens' houses were swept away to create them? Were they adequately compensated? What will they be used for after this weekend? Somehow I can't see Mick Hucknall filling The Bird's Nest on his next world tour.
The sheer spectacle of this Olympics naturally leads to the question, how will Britain compete in 2012? On any level, not least as we have just been told the finances have been scaled down and not a penny more than £9.35 billion will be spent. As for our £400,000 2012 logo (bottom), it looks like a 1980s High School art project and 80% of the British population loathe it!
Nor am I looking forward to our opening event; The Complete Standstill of the Underground Tube System or some of the spectator sports such as 'Can you last two hours until it's your turn for that WC cubicle?' or 'Buy The Last Congealed Burger in the Olympic Village for £20 or Starve' As for choreographing the acrobatic display of our LED light-suited Beefeaters and the Metropolitan Riot Police Sychronised Swimming Team for the closing ceremony, methinks that'll need some work.
And let's face it, Londoners may as well just book a month's holiday and let their homes out for the duration of the London Olympics, making the day of all the newly-built overpriced hotels that the remainder of the East End is being bulldozed, er, sorry, 'regenerated' to erect. To expect that London will be able to function on anything more than skeleton level during the games is ludicrous. In fact it is ludicrous to stage the Olympics in one of the world's most overcrowded cities in the first place in a country renowned for grinding to a halt at the slightest excuse.
Besides which Milton Keynes needed it far more, and has already bulldozed all architecture of any worth in readiness.
On a separate topic, once all athletes are using performance-enhancing drugs in order to have any chance against rivals who already are, will that make the Olympics a 'level playing field' again?